Alan Grayson calls for Florida Legislature to adopt Connecticut's assault weapons ban
Attempting symbolic similarity to Martin Luther and his "95 Theses" to the Catholic Church, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson on Tuesday urged the Republican-led Florida Legislature to adopt stricter gun control measures in the aftermath of last week's shooting massacre at a gay nightclub near his district.
The Orlando congressman affixed to the doors of the Florida House and Senate chambers in Tallahassee a summary of the bill analysis for the law Connecticut passed a few months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in that state four years ago. Assault weapons were used in both the Orlando and Newtown tragedies.
"It's much too easy in America today to kill so many people so quickly," Grayson told reporters who captured his photo op in the Florida Capitol. "This bill ended that for people in Connecticut."
He said seven states have adopted either bans or heavy restrictions on assault weapons, and "I think that this state needs to do that."
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, didn't acknowledge Grayson's request when asked for comment by the Herald/Times, but he did slam Grayson for using the Orlando shooting for political gain.
"Last week, our first-responders bravely and selflessly ran into the Pulse nightclub to end the horrible terror attack in Orlando," Crisafulli said in a statement. "That is quite a contrast to Congressman Alan Grayson who is using the same tragedy to run in front of television cameras to gain attention for his floundering U.S. Senate campaign."
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, did not offer a comment on Grayson's request.
The Connecticut law was much more comprehensive than just limiting the sale of assault weapons, or semi-automatic weapons. It also limited high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and required background checks for private sales of shotguns and rifles, among other regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to hear a Second Amendment challenge to the 2013 law.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others when he shot up the Pulse nightclub in the early hours of June 12. It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Grayson wants both Florida and the federal government to resume a ban on assault weapons that the United States had from 1994 to 2004. He said it "reduced mass shootings committed by assault weapons by two-thirds."
Grayson said he plans to introduce this week in the U.S. House what he's calling the "Freedom From Fear Act" -- a one-sentence bill that would reinstate and make permanent the federal ban.
"That's exactly what we're trying to accomplish here today: To free people from the fear that they or people whom they love could be killed with a weapon like that," Grayson said.
Grayson is seeking Florida's U.S. Senate seat, currently held by Republican Marco Rubio. He's running against U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Miami labor attorney Pam Keith, Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and Orlando businessman "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente in the Aug. 30 primary.
Aside from an assault weapons ban, Grayson said he also wants to see Congress pass legislation for universal background checks, to ban those on the FBI's terrorist watch-list from buying guns, and to resume investigations of individuals removed from the watch-list who then buy dangerous weapons.
"As long as we allow weapons of mass destruction to be purchased in the United States, we are all at risk," Grayson said. "So I'm calling on the Florida state Legislature to change that."
(For the record: Grayson used blue tape to post the bill summary to the Legislature doors, not a nail as Luther did. He couldn't tape the full law itself, because it's 140 pages long.)
While in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Grayson also filed his paperwork to qualify for the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.